Boutique wineries sometimes fool me. In fairness, I’ve had many new world boutique wineries that seem to underwhelm me, while others truly shine. Baer is one of those limited production wineries that always seems to impress me, vintage after vintage. I was first turned onto this winery with their 2006 release of their ‘Ursa’ which was prior to starting WWB. This wine had incredible red fruit character, silky tannins and was downright delicious once in the glass. I bought a case of this wine and enjoyed it over several years with my friends.
Following the tragic passing of Lance Baer, Erica Orr took the helm and helped create what I’ve found to be now one of the most consistent red wine lineups in Washington. Erica even hit a home run in the challenging 2015 vintage. I have seen her winemaking style evolve over the past decade, as her wines are less heavily tannic now and gear towards elegance but maintaining good ripeness.
Last night I sat down with Baer winemaker Erica Orr and owner Lisa Baer for what was a very special tasting of their ‘Ursa’ Red Wine. The vertical tasting encompassed vintages ’02, ’06, ’10, ’12 and ’15. All of the wines showed marvelously. One of the highlights of the tasting was actually seeing how well the ’02 and ’06 showed considering their age. I think that the 2002 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine (WWB, 93) still has several years left, as its beautiful red fruit tones were singing last night. The best wine that I tried was the stunning 2012 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine (WWB, 94) which had incredible balance, as you could see each varietal moving like a fine running motor. This tasting also has shown how the Stillwater Creek Vineyard has evolved from the high toned red fruits in the 2002 vintage to the deep, dark fruits from the 2015 vintage. This is truly a very special vineyard that remains somewhat under the radar. Learn more about these beautiful wines at http://www.baerwinery.com/WordPress/ Here are my reviews from a glorious Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine vertical tasting on May 23rd, 2019.
2015 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine- The 2015 ‘Ursa’ is a blend of 38% Merlot with 38% Cabernet Franc and 22% Cabernet with just a touch of Malbec (2%). This was aged in 44% new French oak for 20 months prior to bottling. This has considerably more cabernet Sauvignon than most vintages as winemaker Erica Orr felt that the Cabernet Sauvignon was particularly excellent this vintage. The texture here is really beautiful, giving a good sense of opulence. You can see each working part here with three Bordeaux varietals wonderfully coming together with dark fruits and chocolate flavors most dominant. Drink 2019-2029- 93
2012 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine- The 2012 ‘Ursa’ is a fabulous blend of 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc with 12% Malbec and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon all sourced from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard. The wine was aged in 53% new French oak for 20 months prior to bottling. This shows off a deep core, unveiling very pretty red fruits with red rose petals and shades of tar and black currant that all mingle in the glass. The texture is extremely polished as the wine takes on a seductive edge. Impeccably balanced, this shows off gorgeous milk chocolate covered red cherry, sagebrush, and black tea with red raspberry cordial flavors. The long finish further accentuates this simply beautiful wine. While drinking marvelously now, this will continue to evolve well for at least another ten years. Drink 2019-2029- 94
2010 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine- Coming from a cooler vintage in Washington State, the 2010 ‘Ursa’ has 42% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon. This was aged in 73% new French oak for 20 months prior to bottling. The nose is quite powerful with toasty oak that mingles with black tea, milk chocolate and shades of sagebrush and red bell pepper. This is extremely elegant with good ripeness considering the coolness of the vintage with thyme and sagebrush accents connecting with the red and dark fruits. This shows good richness and freshness with a left bank Bordelaise feel and a sight salinity towards the back end. While this is peaking now, this will cellar well over the next five years. Drink 2019-2024- 92
2006 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine- The 2006 ‘Ursa’ Red Wine is a silky blend of 50% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. This was the last year that they only made this red wine in their lineup. The wine was aged in 95% new French oak for 20 months prior to bottling. The nose shows toasty oak that wraps around roasted dates, sweet pipe tobacco, and dark fruits. The palate shows good freshness with a strong salinity. Dark fruits mingle with espresso bean and rose water on the palate. The long, mineral and dusty earth-driven finish lingers. Drink 2019-2024- 92
2002 Baer ‘Ursa’ Red Wine- The 2002 vintage in Washington was absolutely legendary, with almost perfect growing conditions. The ‘Ursa’ is a blend of 44% Merlot with 31% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is very plush showing roasted dark fruits with a nice savory edge and a touch of Turkish coffee. The wine is remarkably fresh on the mid-palate with wonderful red fruits that run through a nice sense of salinity. Drink 2019-2024- 93
2008 Baer ‘Maia’ Cabernet Franc- This wine is 100% Cabernet Franc sourced from the Stillwater Creek Vineyard. The wine opens with an alluring nose of rose water, green bell pepper and licorice that all combine marvelously in the glass. The wine is strangely still tannic, showing quite a lot of power. Coffee grounds, black tea, and rich dark fruits. This is drinking marvelously right now but still has a long way to go. Drink 2019-2029- 93